'I've never read a book like Jailbirds before - which shows quite how much we need it. It is very funny and very important and reminds us that women in jail are still women worth listening to. I'm only grateful - for them, and for us - that Mim was listening.' PANDORA SYKES 'Mim's warmth and understanding make for a humane, sometimes humorous, and always perceptive account of prison life.
This book is a fine achievement.' KEN LOACH Darkly funny, heartbreakingly poignant and stark in its revelations about the UK's attitude towards people on the fringes of society and women in general, JAILBIRDS is this year's book you need to read. ***" Did you know:- that 48 per cent of the women in prison have committed an offence in order to support the drug use of someone else?- that 46 per cent of women in prison report having attempted suicide once in their lifetime?- or that over half of the women in prison have been victims of more serious crimes than the ones they've been convicted of?But this isn't a book about statistics. It's a book about the individual stories of women caught up in our creaking and under-resourced prison system.
Women who commit crimes in order get a roof over their head, who star in prison pantomimes and who deal drugs with Apprentice-style entrepreneurship. It's about those who won their battles with addiction or mental health, and those that didn't. About those who will never come back to prison, and those for whom it's the only safe space they've ever known.
Headlines and news reports of prison leave us with a boiled-down narrative of goodies and baddies - violent offenders, neglectful mothers and incurable psychopaths if you read one paper, or cruel officers, the evil establishment and sexist judges if you read another. But, very rarely, just humans. When I started working in prisons, part of me expected to find this pantomime cast of characters.
Instead I met wonderful, funny, brave and resilient people with complicated stories - on both sides of the bars. Come inside with me and meet them."